Monday 26 August 2019

Mirror, Mirror                       

by Cynthia Atkins

                         I am a collection of dismantled almosts”--Anne Sexton

There is a parcel of land where everything is true
in reverse. Ribbon-cutting ceremony into the Mayor’s

grave plot, where Nana Ida is a shopper putting on her lipstick,
shade 53, Maui in the Moonlight—Setting sail after the war

of ideas. We’re all headed for nasty weather, or its opposite
like breakfast for dinner. I found a lone diner just off

the grid. In a plate, I saw myself, I saw my mother back home,
tweezing her eye-brows—Nylons behind her drying

into leaves, or grief itself. My cracked lips homesick for a smile
and a familiar meal. The waitress has a run in her stockings,

like confidence in reverse, as when Gus the bartender
at the Ramada Inn held my arms behind my back

and touched my 16 yr. old breasts. I felt my pimples stir
into a hurricane in the town square—that Mayor selling

raffle tickets to the thinnest skin of dignity. The tip jar
wrestled to the floor. With two birds perched, my mom

pulled the tiniest stubborn hairs, as if twigs exhumed from
her brow—Hard triumphs of pain held under the light.

I hear Nana Ida’s worry lines in my ears. I am my mother pulling
out branches, the whole family tree. My face is the universe breaking

off the smallest possibilities—with each shard of self.

* * * * *

"Mirror, Mirror" was first published in Hermeneutic Chaos.

Cynthia Atkins is the author of Psyche’s Weathers and In the Event of Full Disclosure, and the forthcoming collection “Still-Life With God.” Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including, Alaska Quarterly Review, Apogee, BOMB, Cleaver Magazine, Cultural Weekly, Denver Quarterly, Diode, Florida Review, Flock Lit, Green Mountains Review, Le Zaporogue, Los Angeles Review, North American Review, Rust + Moth, Sweet: A Literary Confection, SWWIM, Tampa Review, and Verse Daily, and have been nominated for Pushcart and Best of The Net. Formerly, Atkins worked as the assistant director of the Poetry Society of America. She has received fellowships from Bread Loaf and the VCCA. Atkins teaches creative writing at Blue Ridge Community College and lives on the Maury River of Rockbridge County VA with her family. More on @catkinspoet www.cynthiaatkins.com

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